"in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
It's great as long as your life is going smooth. But what about when things go wrong...what about when life gets junky? Not so thankful then...huh.
I'll be honest...my life hasn't been very tragedy filled. I've had it pretty easy. I've gone to church my whole life. My testimony doesn't include drinking, drugs, or gang violence. I've never lived on the street. I've never experienced war. I've always had food to eat...a roof over my head...people to love me. Sure, I've had tough times (hey, I'm a Detroit Lions fan), but nothing extremely rough. Bottom line, it's been easy to be thankful.
I remember when my uncle Tom died. It was the first time I can remember being mad at God. Uncle Tom was a good man. He volunteer coached kids to keep them off the street. He was a retired firefighter who saved countless people's lives. He loved people. It wasn't fair. He wasn't supposed to have a heart attack, especially during the Christmas season.
I was NOT thankful. I went to the funeral. I saw family. I ate food. I shared stories and even laughed a bit. But I wasn't thankful. I was mad.
God's Word doesn't give us an option on thankfulness. We are to give thanks in all circumstances. The deal is that we are to be content with our life and focus on the Glory, Majesty, and Greatness of God! No matter what happens here on earth, He loves us. He gave us life. He made eternal life a possibility. We have a future with Him in glory. Nothing can take any of those things away.
I wasn't thankful because I was being selfish. I was thinking about me. I was going to miss uncle Tom (and still do). I wanted him around. I wanted to see him at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wanted to hear his laugh. I wanted to go hiking with him. Me, me, me. Since uncle Tom's death, I've witnessed God's Spirit work in several of my family members that had been closed to the Gospel their entire lives. I'm thankful NOW but I wish I hadn't missed the opportunities I had then.
When we get selfish during tragedies we lose sight of the opportunities God is giving us to share His love and His story with others. I'm not saying "don't be sad." I'm saying don't miss opportunities you may never have again. Hurricanes, family and friends deaths, poverty, pain, sickness...the "unthankful" list could go on for a long time...all of these things are opportunities for the best in God's people to shine. I think it's important and crucial to mourn, but are you still going to love those around you? Are you willing to still serve those around you? Will you reflect Christ or not? Giving thanks in all circumstances requires that you trust in God...trust that He is still in charge and knows what He is doing. It might not make sense or be fair to us, but God calls us to trust and serve Him. Hebrews 11:6, "without faith, it is impossible to please God."
What opportunities is God giving you to tell others the Good News? Let your "thanksgiving in all circumstances" reflect Christ to everyone around you. Stay strong.